Screening at Peckham Vision Community Public Event

Spectacle’s latest film ‘Bleacher on the Rye’ will be screened 6pm Wednesday 23rd July in the CLF Art Café, 133 Rye Lane as part of the launch of the community-built model of central Rye Lane as it is now.

The Peckham Vision event is from 3pm until 9pm which includes exhibition and creative activities, meetings and the screening of the film at 6pm.

 

Community-built model

Picture 10As explained on the Peckham Vision website “The Station Gateway site is a complex one with commercial buildings nestled amongst railway buildings, viaducts and arches. The site is divided into properties with addresses on Rye Lane, Holly Grove, Blenheim Grove, Station Way, Dovedale Court, and Blenheim Court. So we created a site map showing exactly where these places are and how they related to the plans for total clearance that we were beginning to hear about. This aid to discussion proved invaluable as during 2013 we took two deputations to the Cabinet, attended a Scrutiny Committee, and took part in many community fairs, events and meetings, and discussion about the issues raised by the plans. Then Network Rail published their proposals to clear the site and redevelop it completely. To be able to have clear discussions, local people needed to have a model of the existing buildings and their layout on the site and also the areas around the site. We had suggested to the Council during the consultations last winter that a model would be very useful for this purpose. But the Council turned down the idea as too expensive. So Peckham Vision decided to ask local people on our networks if they would be interested in making a model with us for use in the planning discussions. Many people responded enthusiastically, and over 30 are now taking part in our model making group under the expert guidance of local architects Benedict O’Looney and Clyde Watson from Peckham Vision. Local organisations supporting the project are the Peckham Society, Whitten Timber and Complete Fabrication, Khan’s Bargain Ltd. We acknowledge with much thanks their support for this community project. The model is at a scale of 1:100 and is slowly taking shape building by building. It should be ready for use in a few weeks.”

Picture 4Read the Guardian City article by Matthew Ponsford: Could ‘co-design’ help Peckham where community consultation failed?

 

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Bleacher on the Rye screenings

Our new film ‘Bleacher on the Rye’ on the proposed redevelopment on Peckham Rye Station by Network Rail has had two recent screenings in order to make local people and businesses aware of this plan that is threatening the station area. Tonight, 6th June 2014 6.15-7.15 there will a third screening at Goldsmiths University as part of the event ‘A Tale of Two Cities: Class and Space in Paris and London.’

The screening is free and open to all. Details here.

The film is still in development but has had two recent local screenings to raise awareness of the plans. At every screening the film is more developed and tweaked to respond to audience feedback.

Wednesday 28th May, ‘Bleacher on the Rye’ was screened at the exhibition ‘CO-IMAGINE the re-development of Peckham Rye Station‘ at Peckham’s CLF Art Cafe (Bussey Building). The exhibition brought together an array of imaginative visions for the future of the station and its surrounding area and an open forum panel discussion with speakers; Eileen Conn from Peckham Vision, local architect Benedict O’Looney and Mark Saunders of Spectacle. The purpose of the event was to provide the necessary space for discussion ahead of Southwark Council and Network Rail’s open ‘co-design’ workshops this summer, in an attempt to actively involve local residents and stakeholders in a collaborative design process to consult on plans for the imminent redevelopment of Peckham Rye Station Gateway.

Friday 30th May Cinema6 screened a slightly updated version of ‘Bleacher on the Rye’ in a Gentrification Double Bill ‘There goes the neighborhood‘ with ‘Concrete Heart Land‘ which documented the attempts by local Heygate residents, in Elephant and Castle, to resist the ongoing process of dispossession and gentrification. Hosted in the cosy arch of artist studios Arcadia Missa Cinema6 together with Full Unemployment Cinema and Southwark Notes opened a lively and fruitful audience discussion with other local activists and artists on shared experiences and strategies.

If you would like to organise a screening of this film please get in touch.

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Our Intentions – Peckham

800px-Rye_Lane_Station_1880

Spectacle has been observing and documenting the so called “regeneration” of London over the past 20 years, which has largely resulted in the displacement of local people, the break up of communities, the creation of gated communities and privatisation of public space. This process will lead to London becoming like Paris, where only the rich can afford to live in the city centre and the poor are pushed out to the suburban perimeter, with its associated rise in social tension and social segregation. The pursuit of profits by the privileged few is achieved at the cost of social cohesion, equality of opportunity and quality of life for the many. It is time our elected representatives, instead of being the midwife to such monstrous developments, took a stand to protect their less resourced citizens. But sadly most people in politics see it as a short cut to getting their legs under the boardroom tables and sharing the spoils. They are blind to more benign, alternative ways to really socially regenerate areas.

Peckham, London

We have been closely monitoring the developments surrounding the corporate plans for Peckham Rye Station and the surrounding area. Since January this year we have been filming and interviewing many of those affected by the Network Rail, Greater London Authority and Southwark Council plans.

In mid-May we will be submitting the first edition of our findings in a short, campaign film at a community awareness meeting in central Peckham. The meeting will aim to inform as many people as possible about the events unfolding in the area, as the level of consultation so far has been weak. The film will illustrate some of the devastating effects the redevelopment will have on independent businesses, the growing arts scene in Peckham and the vibrant cohesive community as a whole.

More generally, we are in the process of making a longer documentary dedicated to the story in Peckham, which will touch on corporate redevelopment of London, gentrification and the power of community.

 

If you would like to know more, are interested in sharing your experiences, or would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station Redevelopment Project, just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Harriet Harman MP met the community to discuss the future of Peckham

Harriet2

A recent meeting between Harriet Harman, MP and the business owners and residents affected by the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment, highlighted some local concerns regarding the Network Rail and Southwark Council plans.

Emphasis was on moving forward since receiving an extension for the GLA (Greater London Authority) funding of £5million, and implementing a consultation/co-design process between local people and architects. Yet ‘compromise’ was also a key theme throughout the meeting, which may prove to be a tougher pill to swallow, particularly with regards to the proposed residential buildings flanking the station.

Local architect, Benedict O’Looney, currently responsible for the restoration for Peckham Rye Station, suggested that rather than stick to the constraints of the land surrounding the station, designers should should look further afield for the space for residential property. On the opposite side of Rye Lane to the station, a large, open space currently occupied by a scaffolding company might make a better place for residential flats, than the cramped and heavily occupied space currently available.

This suggestion to relieve the pressure for housing in the area may make space for some of the original businesses surrounding the station to remain included in the plans, as in the initial design ideas drawn up by Peckham Vision. However, when Southwark councillor, Nick Dolezal, was quizzed over whether these plans would now be considered in the new, co-design process, the only reassurance he could give was that all the plans to date were “relevant”. It seems clear that a lot of unnecessary (public) expenditure has been incurred with regards to the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment, which is now receiving another overhaul.

Meeting2

Unfortunately, it seems that some businesses within the Network Rail estate have little hope of being saved by Southwark Council. Steven Salter, of Innovation Interiors, and Lee Parsons, of Tara Fabrications, voiced their concerns that Network Rail has categorically told them that their businesses are “undesirable” and would not be considered for relocation into Blenheim Court, even if they could afford it. Salter went on to describe how he felt pressured by Network Rail to comply with their notices, as in private meetings he has been told to “keep [his] passions for the community separate from [his] business” otherwise he could face “difficulties”.

Nick Dolezal washed his hands of responsibility as he explained that as Southwark Council are not the landowners for the proposed plans, they are only able to give stakeholders a “greater voice” and administer “guidance” to Network Rail and the GLA on this basis. Harriet Harman empathised and agreed that Network Rail are notoriously “underdeveloped” in the landlord aspect of their empire, particularly since only 6% of their revenue is reportedly invested in the Town and Country Planning Sector. She vowed to meet with Network Rail bosses to discuss how they could “up their game on social responsibility”, in response to Salter’s statements.

Meeting3

The council tried to make it clear to concerned stakeholders that they are still responsible for issuing any planning permissions and they have some control over the rental charges once a planning application is accepted. However, some residents gave the frightening example of a local, Network Rail refurbished unit currently on offer at £45,000 per year, which they claimed was unsuitable and unaffordable for any independent, local business, such as those in Peckham. It seems that despite government and council involvement, the future of Peckham’s small and medium enterprise’s still looks bleak if Network Rail is allowed to steam ahead.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Pressurisation, Orders to Quit & Private Profit – Network Rail’s Business Model

EileenClaridgeNetworkRailNetwork Rail Winter Newsletter 2012 is dedicated to “Network Rail’s small business owners”. Astonishingly, the same newsletter also features an interview with Eileen Claridge (pictured above), who’s bulldozer attitude is leading to the extinction of exactly this type of business in Peckham.

Eileen Claridge has been tasked with generating financial profit for the Network Rail estate, and she has turned her attention to Peckham. The design plans that were unveiled on 18th January, in a poorly organised consultation meeting, have caused a ruckus amongst many local residents and business owners. Particularly disturbing was the architectural insensitivity to the surrounding areas, including the Rye Lane Conservation Area, the vast redevelopment (rather than regeneration) of the town centre and the absence of any local businesses that already occupy the site.

The Gateway AreaShe wants to design and build “new and flexible buildings”, ignoring the potential of the buildings already in place, such as the 1930’s building either side of the station and belittling the historic architectural conservation of the area. This mentality is all too common in corporations tasked with generating income – rather than saving money by utilising already instated property, the mentality is to spend lots of money to make lots more money. Jane Jacobs‘ prognosis that “new ideas must use old buildings”, has fallen on deaf ears.

Similarly, the lack of acknowledgement of existing businesses within the buildings and arches again indicates how little effort is made to understand the value of Network Rail’s commercial estates, beyond just landmass. There is nothing intelligent about issuing businesses with orders to quit, buying out lease holders, investing vast amounts in glass and stainless steel “workspaces”, then selling them off to private investors for private profit.

Lastly, informants who wish to remain anonymous have told us that Network Rail has been organising individual, private meetings with the tenants and business owners that occupy the site. In these meetings, vulnerable businesses are offered ‘a more comfortable ride’ with their relocating process, in the promise that they distance themselves from a campaign against the redevelopment. The very businesses that have brought people to Peckham recently and those that have been thriving here for years, are now being bullied into leaving their sites without a fuss, so the big boys can reap the benefits of their successes.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Boxpark threatens to take Peckham as its next victim

01_LRPeckham Peculiar recently uncovered the revelation that may see the end of Peckham as we know it. Not only is Peckham currently battling to protect its thriving local businesses around the station from corporate advances, but it now faces a – not entirely dissimilar – threat from Boxpark; the leading light in over-night gentrification.

Boxpark is the brain child of CEO and founder, Roger Wade, and sees refurbished shipping containers, stacked on top of each other, they claim to be the world’s first pop-up mall in Shoreditch, no less. While the idea has given opportunity to some independent businesses, the local economy is not of primary concern as it is also home to high-end brands like Nike and Puma, as well as all the novelty establishments usually reserved for Glastonbury, like gourmet falafel vendors and taxidermy classes.

The success of Boxpark has been largely driven by tourism and a white, middle-class demographic of ‘alternative’ shoppers, and unarguably it has played some part in the pandemic that is now referred to as ‘Shoreditchification‘. By parachuting this type of demographic into Peckham, so quickly and efficiently, the diverse and cohesive community and businesses that already exist will be undermined, purely on the basis of knock-on rent increases.

A Boxpark can pop-up and then just as easily pop-off leaving the local market and small shops high and dry with “enhanced” rents.

We don’t need this spray on gentrification.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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GLA Funding Extension for Peckham Rye Station

800px-Rye_Lane_Station_1880Following the Peckham and Nunhead Community Council meeting, Southwark Council and Network Rail have asked the Greater London Authority (GLA) for an extension to the funding they are contributing to the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment project.

The GLA had promised a sum of £5 million, which would expire in Spring 2016. For this target to be met, planning applications for the redevelopment would have to be submitted by next month. This race against the clock was partly to blame for the rushed and ill-conceived plans issued by architects Weston+Williams and Network Rail last month, which prompted fraught concern throughout the Peckham community.

Thankfully, Southwark Council last night issued a statement on their website suggesting that “although the decision needs to be finalised, the council is confident that” the GLA will agree to an extension. The acceptance of an extension is designed to allow local people to be more involved in the plans for the station, surrounding areas and businesses, as they should have been from the beginning.

The initial plans for the station square to be opened up began in 2008 and came from local people and members of Peckham Vision. Discussions continued between the community and the council until Network Rail pledged their involvement and ultimately, their investment. It was at this point that any consultation between the planning process and the community stopped and the ‘Gateway‘ Juggernaut began to pick up speed. Although this GLA funding extension is a win on the side of the residents, our council should never have let pound signs come before people.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Finding Peckham’s Lost Lavatories

In recent years there has been a strong local campaign for a decent provision of public lavatories in Peckham Town centre.

We think that there are lost lavatories at the junction of Rye Lane and The Peckham High Street (Peckham’s village core). A look at maps and historic photographs suggest that a substantial subterranean public lavatory was built around 1900 and was used by the community until about 1955. Photographs show the entrance to lavatories with tall decorative wrought iron railings and flights of steps, north and south, to what must have been substantial, tiled, subterranean Sanitary Courts.

1905 outside Jones & HigginsHere they are in 1905, just outside Jones & Higgins, when Peckham was in its heyday.

1930 Peckham's Public LavatoriesHere are the lavatories as they stood in 1930, next to the tram.

1955 Peckham's Public LavatoriesLastly, here they are in 1955 (note the damage to the department store after the war).

Could these interiors be intact? With the original Edwardian sanitary ware? Under a 1950s concrete slab? We think it is unlikely that this facility was ‘filled in’.

Below is a composite of ordinance surveys from 1914 and 2014, showing the location of the lavatories in relation to the street now. We wonder if the pressure for public toilets in Peckham could be relieved by the re-discovery and restoration of this ‘lost’ facility.

1914 and 2014 Ordinance Survey CompositeLocal architect Benedict O’Looney and Mark Saunders of Spectacle

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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‘Gateway’: Corporate Language of Control

Preferred Plan by Network RailThe area surrounding Peckham Rye Station, set for redevelopment by Network Rail and Southwark Council, has been dubbed the ‘Gateway‘. Their intention to cash in on Peckham’s recent prosperities endangers the independent, artisan businesses within the arches and the 1930’s building surrounding the station. In January, the plans were revealed detailing commercial and retail units, and seven-story’s worth of luxury accommodation. While community efforts to halt the construction are bubbling, with council meetings being called and the local distribution of flyers, it is still important to note the strategic use of limiting language by various bodies of power and not to adopt such terms ourselves, or face being pigeonholed.

gatewaydefinitionA simple Google search produces interesting definitions for the term ‘Gateway’ – “a place regarded as giving access to another place” and “a device used to connect two different networks”. In the context of the station, the overground links and rail services certainly do give immediate access to central Peckham and all of the available industries around Rye Lane. However, by defining the area as such, limits it to being perceived only as a port of access and undermines it as an attraction in itself.

The Gateway AreaPeckham Vision illustrates (above) the locations of various creative and cultural businesses on the station redevelopment plan. Similarly, our previous blogs have tried to highlight how the Peckham ‘Gateway Area’ is in fact a place full of creative enterprises, long-standing businesses and new, independent initiatives such as bars and breweries, galleries and studios. All of which are contributing to a gradual increase in footfall and popularity of Peckham, which is attracting people from all over town. Yet the plans have chosen to ignore Blenheim Court, Blenheim Road, Dovedale Court, Holly Grove and the Station Arcade as an area of increasing enterprise and local economic advantage. Instead, the whole area has been reduced to an entry and exit point for central London commuters who will take up the unaffordable housing, and the gentrified twenty-somethings flocking to Frank’s of a summer’s eve. All of the connotations point away from existing residents, business owners and the local community who actually use, live and breathe the space every day.

The use of the term, as can be seen in the statistics above, began to peak around the 1980’s – a stark correlation with the Thatcher era and large-scale, government-funded programmes for urban redevelopment. The Thames Gateway project, of the same name, is a perfect example.

thames_gateway_470x168This was a Thatcher regeneration investment to turn brownfield land into 160,000 new homes, rejuvenate towns and create 180,000 new jobs along the Thames estuary, from east London, through Kent and as far as Southend-on-Sea and the Isle of Sheppey in Essex. The sheer size of the development meant that the entire region was looked upon not as individual, bottom-up improvements spanning three counties and 16 local government districts, but as a singular overhaul of general degradation. It was former conservative deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine who defined the area as a ‘Gateway’ during a helicopter tour of east London in 1979, and in doing so reduced the home of over 3 million people to “a place regarded as giving access to another place“.

Similarly, last year’s Tower Hamlets Whitechapel Vision Masterplan aimed at the regeneration of the area to transform it “into a key destination for London“, uses the the word again. From page 8 of the ‘vision’:

The creation of “entrance gateways” will help to improve first impressions, create a sense of arrival and define Whitechapel as a place and destination in its own right. This can be achieved through high quality buildings and public realm improvements at these gateway junctions.

Despite the complete disregard that Whitechapel is a already a place of interest for many Londoners, the onus on developing the area alongside new Crossrail networks for the enjoyment of newcomer’s “first impressions”, without recognition for the people that already live and work there, just stands to show where the loyalties of our councils lie. The grandiose over-expenditure on the part of Network Rail for amenities already available in Peckham, such as bars, galleries and artisan studios, reeks of this outmoded, 80’s planning.

The same generalisations can be said for things like the Gateway Drug Theory, which suggests that drugs such as alcohol and cannabis create a pathway into harder drugs, addiction and crime. Various sporadic experiments have supported and refuted the hypothesis, but all-in-all, the term used is limiting and sees populations as a generalised whole, detracting credit from the rational, decision-making individual.

this is not a gateway

Organisation, This Is Not A Gateway, was formed to create a platform for people who care about the future of our streets to discuss, debate and critique the ever-changing urban policy of cities and towns. They argue that all too often, decisions regarding vast redevelopment of urban areas are isolated to a small population of upper-middle class, white men that will likely never step foot on the soil they homogenise. In describing the choice of name for the organisation, they put it perfectly:

There is no beginning or end of a city, there is no place of entry and exit, there is no entrance that can be opened, there are no gateway texts, no gateway knowledges. In choosing to recognise ‘gateways’ we give others the ability to create boundaries, borders and limitations to our lives.

The historical use of ‘Gateway’ has always been about management. It reduces and simplifies places and people so that they can be effectively herded and categorised, which establishes control.

EileenClaridgeNetworkRailEileen Claridge, the sarcastic Network Rail representative instructed to attend the January 18th ‘public consultation’ meeting, who kindly stated that corporation was “not a charity”, is the terrifying example of this control tactic. In Network Rail’s 2012 winter newsletter, Eileen was interviewed about her new position as one of eight “asset development surveyors who look after enhancement projects for Network Rail Commercial Estate”:

What does your job entail?

We identify and develop potential new income for commercial estates.

 

What are the challenges?

We’re tasked with raising the company’s income
by finding brand new opportunities.

 

What would you be doing if it weren’t this job?

I’d quite like to be a mounted policeman!

I can only draw comparisons to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 at Eileen’s closing statement.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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A small triumph for Peckham at the Community Council Meeting

Ruth Kennedy discusses the deputationThe Peckham and Nunhead Community Council Meeting at Harris Academy Peckham on Wednesday 12th February saw Peckham residents and local business owners gather to discuss, directly with Southwark councilors, the plans for Peckham Rye Station.

A crowd beginning to gather for the Community Council Meeting, Wed 11 Feb

The chair announced the deputation that had been devised by local Peckham people, including Eileen Conn of Peckham Vision.

Chair of Peckham & Nunhead Community Council Meeting

Ruth Kennedy, a Peckham resident for over 20 years, read the Deptuation Statement to the room. It outlined the lack of communication between Southwark Council, the GLA and Network Rail, and the subsequent lack of consultation with local people regarding the developing plans. It emphasised the threat the plans pose for the local economy, in particular the cultural quarter, and disputed the size and scale of the primarily residential block developments surrounding the station. The lack of basic priorities that the public had asked for, specifically public toilets and the open square, were also brought to Southwark’s attention.

Ruth Kennedy delivers the deputation to Southwark CouncilRuth concluded by asking two questions:

Please can we meet to co-construct a process of meaningful ongoing collaboration, that will see this development through to a fantastic transformation for Peckham?

Can we begin the next phase with the curation of a robust, creative workshop, involving all three partners and the community, so everyone is hearing the same messages, and is engaged in collaborative problem-solving together?

A long applause for the deputation!…which received tumultuous applause.

Cllr Fiona Colley agrees with the issues raised in the deputation

Councillor Fiona Colley (pictured) thanked those involved for devising the deputation and enthusiastically agreed to both points. She announced that a meeting between Southwark Council and Network Rail would be taking place next week in order to discuss the plans and that the speed of the development was controlled by a deadline for the Spring 2016 GLA fund of £5million, which in order to be completed, a planning application would need to be submitted by next week. Therefore, Colley has arranged to meet with the GLA to seek an extension of the deadline.

Local Peckham resident BarryShe agreed that the issue of public toilets needed to be addressed and apologised for the way the subject was handled at the January 18th Public Consultation meeting. With regards to the threat to industry as a result of the redevelopment, Colley was wholeheartedly behind protection of these businesses and incorporation of them into new plans so they are not priced out. As such, she announced that Southwark Council would not be using compulsory purchase orders for this project and that betting shops and payday lenders would be excluded from the area. She also said that the plans for Dovedale Court demonstrated a real “lack of vision” and clarity, and that Network Rail did indeed only give generic answers to question of potential rent prices at the last meeting.

Peckham residents and business owners deliver the deputation

However, the issue of the seven-storey, residential buildings proposed around the station were keenly glossed over. Colley agreed that she saw little reason for the 30’s building to be torn down and that the height and density of the residential blocks should be discussed further with Network Rail, but she did not oppose their existence.

Peckham & Nunhead Community Council Meeting

Among the victories that Peckham has won here, we are in danger of compromising on other aspects of the redevelopment that also pose a real threat to the carefully balanced ecosystem of Peckham Rye. It certainly suits Southwark Council to shift blame to Network Rail, yet we must remember that all parties were aware of the scale of the redevelopment plans.

Nick Dolezal agrees with deputation

Please feel free to leave your comments below in answer to these questions or any other statements throughout the blog.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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